Rody sets off to China for fifth visit


President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday evening left for China for a visit as he is set to raise the Philippines’ arbitration victory over the South China Sea dispute with Chinese President Xi Jinping and discuss other matters.

The President left Manila at around 7 p.m. and is expected to arrive in Beijing for his fifth visit to the Asian powerhouse since assuming office in June 2016.

Duterte will meet Xi on Thursday to take stock of the developments in the region and in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China and according to Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, the President will raise the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling invalidating China’s expansive claim to the disputed waters and clarifying the Philippines’ maritime entitlements

Panelo noted that Duterte will raise the concern during the bilateral meeting with Xi.

To recall, the President earlier refused to flaunt the 2016 ruling in order to forge stronger trade and economic ties with China even as he promised to raise the decision at a proper time during his term.

However, China does not recognize the decision and has maintained sovereignty and ownership over the resource-rich waters.

The Palace official also revealed that Duterte will also discuss with Xi ways and means on how to go about the conduct and framework of a possible joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea being claimed by Manila.

He added that the two leaders will also exchange views on issues important to their nations’ interests, such as expediting China’s existing big-ticket projects in the Philippines, as well as improving trade relations.

Duterte’s visit will also see the Philippines and China signing agreements in the fields of education, science and technology and economic and social development during the visit, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The President will also grace a dinner banquet to be hosted by Xi.

On Friday, Duterte will meet with Premier Li Keqiang to discuss ways of spurring and intensifying Philippines-China economic ties, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and ASEAN-China cooperation.

Duterte will then fly to Guangzhou, where he will be received by Vice President Wang Qishan and top political leaders of Guangdong province. Duterte will also have a meeting with Wang.

The President will attend the opening game of the Philippines men’s basketball team Gilas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup game in Foshan, a city in Guangdong, on Saturday and will end his visit on Sunday.